Summary: An Easter skit. What effect did Jesus have on Pontius Pilate? Drawing from the 4 Gospel accounts, with some imagination of a conversation in Pilate’s household on Resurrection Sunday.
Style: Dramatic Duration: 12min
Pontius Pilate – authoritative, yet thoughtful. Intelligent
Pilate’s wife – a strong-willed woman, supportive of Pilate but can stand up to him
Centurion – strong, military man. Respects Pilate
(Pilate is pacing, unsettled. Wife enters SR)
Wife: Why don’t you come back to bed, dear? You’re never going to get to sleep by pacing up and down.
Pilate: Two nights now. Two nights I have been unable to sleep. His words echo in my mind, invading my thoughts.
Wife: He’s dead now. Try to forget about him.
Pilate: Infernal man. Dead since Friday. Why can’t he just leave me alone?
Wife: (Beat) Why didn’t you just leave him alone?
Pilate: Don’t give me that “don’t say I didn’t warn you” speech. Not now. Not ever.
Wife: I knew from my dreams. I knew you should have nothing to do with that man. And I did warn you.
Pilate: You don’t understand the pressure I was under. I couldn’t ignore what the Jewish leaders were saying. The political ramifications would have been too great.
Wife: So you just acquiesced to their demands.
Pilate: (angry) I did not acquiesce. Caesar’s appointed governor does not yield to any, save Caesar himself. These Judeans have no authority over me.
Wife: I know, Pontius. I just don’t understand why you sentenced him to death.
Pilate: He posed a threat to Caesar’s authority.
Wife: Do you really believe that?
Pilate: He said he was a king.
Wife: You said he was a king, the King of the Jews.
Pilate: I know what I said. And I know what he said.
Wife: And did he speak the truth?
Pilate: Truth? What is truth?
Wife: (Pause) You spoke to the man. You looked into his eyes. You tell me.
Pilate: The truth is – I ordered that he be flogged, I agreed that he should be crucified – this Jesus of Nazareth in whom I could find no fault.
Wife: So you feel guilty, responsible that injustice has been done.
Pilate: You know me better than that. What do I care for a simple Jewish miscreant?
Wife: You care enough not to sleep for two nights.
Pilate: I am innocent of that man’s blood!
Centurion: Forgive the intrusion, Governor Pilate, but I bring news. Troubling news.
Pilate: What other kind of news do I ever get in this insignificant backwater of our mighty Empire?
Centurion: It concerns one of the criminals we crucified on Friday – a Jesus, of Nazareth
(Pilate & Wife glance at each other – shock, surprise)
Pilate: What of him?
Centurion: His body, sir – it’s missing. The tomb is empty.
Wife: These Jewish dogs stoop to grave-robbing now?
Centurion: Indeed, sir. We had a squad of 8 men guarding the tomb in case of an attempt to steal the body.
Wife: (To Pilate) You expected something like this would happen?
Centurion: The Jewish religious leaders anticipated that this man’s disciples would try to snatch the body.
Wife: Why on earth would they want to do that?
Centurion: They say that this Jesus had claimed that he would rise from the dead. The priests wanted to disprove such claims by ensuring the body was securely guarded.
Pilate: That worked well, didn’t it. (Beat) Explain to me, Centurion, how a rag-tag bunch of religious maniacs managed to overpower 8 of Rome’s finest warriors?
Centurion: There was no battle, sir. They say they … fell asleep.
Pilate: For one Roman soldier to fall asleep on duty is regrettable, but believable. For 8 to fall asleep simultaneously is preposterous.
Wife: All of them are aware of the punishment for such dereliction of duty?
Centurion: Yes, m’am. They all know that for falling asleep on duty, the punishment is death.
Pilate: And yet, all 8 of them confessed that this is what happened.
Wife: And were executed accordingly?
Centurion: Not exactly.
Wife: Not executed? Pontius, this is insubordination.
Pilate: I don’t believe these soldiers are telling the truth about what happened. All 8? Asleep? At the same time? Never. They have witnessed something that supersedes even their fear of death. Centurion, make sure that they are … suitably persuaded to tell you the truth.
(Centurion salutes & exits)
Wife: Truth? What is truth?
Pilate: (Beat) I’m beginning to wonder.
Wife: If these soldiers are lying, and the body was not stolen by the disciples, how else do you explain that the body is missing?
Pilate: Something he said …
Wife: Surely you don’t believe that he somehow survived the crucifixion and managed to escape from the tomb?
Pilate: Absolutely not. After the blood loss from his scourging, he died more quickly than most – they even speared his side to be sure. He was very dead.
Wife: How, then, do you explain the empty tomb? (Pilate is distracted) Pontius, are you listening to me?
Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world…”
Wife: What are you talking about?
Pilate: That’s what he said to me – “My kingdom is not of this world”. This was no ranting of a lunatic. I asked him where he was from, and he refused to answer me. I told him that I had the power to kill him or free him. Do you know what he said?
Wife: Tell me.
Pilate: I could have no power against him unless God gave it to me. (Pause. Turns & looks to Wife) I believed him. (Beat) I didn’t want to kill him. I wanted to release him.
Pilate: (continues – getting back in focus) What news?
Centurion: They have confessed – the Jewish priests bribed them to say that the disciples stole the body.
Pilate: As I expected.
Wife: The audacity. So what really happened?
Centurion: (Cautiously) They are saying … they are saying that angels came down from heaven, broke the seal, rolled the stone away – and … that … he came out.
Wife: More lies. Torture them again!
Pilate: They are saying that he rose from the dead?
Centurion: We spoke to each of them separately – all of them told the same story. They have no reason to lie any more.
Pilate: So you believe they are telling the truth?(Centurion nods)
Wife: To quote my husband, “What is truth?”
Pilate: This Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews – is he the truth?
© Copyright Barry Brannen 2014, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.